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article imageKiwi robots deliver food for Berkeley campus students

By Ken Hanly     May 27, 2018 in Technology
Berkeley - Kiwi robots that deliver food are quite common on the University of California Berkeley campus. The co-founder of Kiwi robots and CEO, Felipe Chavez Cortes was anxious to have his robots tested in real world conditions.
Cortes claims that the company has already delivered more than 10,000 orders using its Kiwi bots. Unlike San Francisco that has banned delivery bots from city streets for fear they would takeover sidewalks, the robots can still operate on the Berkeley campus.
The campus also provides what seems to be an endless resource of hungry students. The smaller size of the robots compared to some of the competition means that they are not likely to be seen as monopolizing sidewalks.
Cortes said: “I believe that sidewalks are sacred, and we need to create technology that interacts with people the best way possible. That’s why we’re using several kinds of robots. This size works for 80 percent of the orders.”
The KiwiBot uses binocular computer vision to navigate around the campus. However, it is also aided by humans who take control if the robot needs help crossing the street or navigating through busy areas.
Cortes thought that Berkeley would be a good place to launch Kiwi because the people were diverse and were friendly to new technology such as the robots.
Delivery system is modular
The delivery system is modular with the little four-wheeled robot just used in the last 300 meters of a delivery.Cortes points out: “We started with one robot going from the restaurant to the customer’s house and found out pretty easily that that was inefficient. So we created a multi-modal system. We have three robots: one inside the restaurant, a semi-autonomous tricycle that goes in the streets and we have the last-mile robots. We have robots deployed in the city, and then, with the trikes, we can pick up dozens of meals at once and then we load the robots. The robot makes the last 300 meters. It works. Right now it’s cheaper than using human couriers, and the companies have control of the delivery.”
Kiwi still has a lot of issues to grapple with including making the delivery fully autonomous and ensuring that the robots are not stolen. However they have made a promising start. The company has its own website.
Delivery by robots will be cheaper according to Cortes
Cortes thought of the Kiwi robots after he had ordered a pizza online and found that the delivery cost was almost as much as the pizza. He claimed that the robot delivery could save up to 80 percent. Cortes said: “I think that it is really important that we help things in the city become smarter and cheaper for everyone"
More about Kiwi robots, UC Berkeley, Felipe Cortes
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